Sunday, February 28, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Yesterday, I went to see the Percy Jackson movie. I like the book series because it's funny, and it's heavily-based on Greek/Roman mythology. I was a Greek and Latin major, so I know most of the myths, including some of the more obscure ones, like the time Achilles tried to get out of fighting in the Trojan War by dressing up like a girl (fun story, by the way).

The movie is getting panned as a lame-o Harry Potter knock-off, so let me set the record straight:

This is a totally awesome movie.

I didn't notice any blatant Harry Potter ripoffs in this movie. Actually, you know what? I say it's better than the last Harry Potter flick. The plot was better, the pacing was superb, and the special effects were like 20 times cool. Really great stuff.

I'm not a big fan of special effects, because it feels like there are too many movies with big, showy (and totally unnecessary) special effects. I'm not objecting to cool special effects, but if CGI-showoffery is the main selling point of a film, that's a sign the movie is worth skipping. Besides, ten years from now, all those special effects-based movies will look really bad.

Fortunately, most of the special effects in the Percy Jackson film work well, without being showoffy. Medusa looks awesome. I mean, man did she look creepy. That's probably the best Medusa I've ever seen, and all the special effects were on that high-quality level.

I think what I enjoyed the most about the film were the scenes where Percy walked through camp, and you could see people doing things in the background. I was all, "Cool! Those are Hephaestus people doing smith work!" and "Apollonian archers!" and "Are those Demeter girls?" I enjoy little things like that which probably make no sense to non-Greek students.

My cousin and I got in an argument about that before the movie, because he thinks they screwed up Annabeth's eyes. In the book, her eyes are gray. That's a reference to Athena, who Homer describes as having gray, owl eyes. I argued that nobody would get the reference, because it's too obscure. Even classicists don't quite understand it; our best guess is that it's because owls are wise, and she's the goddess of wisdom. (The other good guess is that the gray owl eyes weren't in the original work, but Athenians added that in hundreds of years later, because her local temple at Athens was infested with owls). The movie gives her fancy owl eyes, instead of gray eyes. It works just as well, and it makes more sense.

Also, Grover. Cousin Jack was upset about the possibility of the movie ruining Grover. I maintain that this is a near-impossible feat, because Grover is a really whiny, annoying character in the books. You'd have to work really hard to make him worse. Seriously, if Grover was played by Grover from Sesame Street in the movie, it'd be a step up from the books.

That's why I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Grover in this movie is actually a really good character. He was cool, and he played the buddy role well. It was a major step up to change Grover from "kid Percy hangs out with because he feels bad that Grover has no friends" to Percy's buddy, so kudos to whoever made that decision.

They changed the plot somewhat, but I'm not complaining, because the new plot really helped set the pacing for the film. The pacing was excellent, and you could really easily tell when one sequence was over and the next one was starting. I'm not even the least bit upset that they cut out two different sequences in the book and replaced them with the not-in-the-book hydra sequence. It worked well, looked good, and my inner classicist LOVES the fact that they built a life-size Parthenon replica.

All in all, it's a great movie, and I loved it. In fact, I might have to do the unthinkable and see the movie in theaters twice, to help the film make enough money to justify a movie adaptation of the second Percy Jackson book. I'm not sure if I can live through the 90 minutes of previews again, but I'll have to risk it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon Speedrun

Today, I started work on a speedrun for Nancy Drew: Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon. By "speedrun", I mean that I'm going to try to beat the game as quickly as possible.

The first step is, of course, planning! I need to figure out what I have to do ahead of time, so today, I thought I'd get started with the start of the game.

After the opening cutscene, the game starts with Nancy in the first train car, talking to Charleena Purcell. She also talks with the Hardy Boys, the train engineer, and explores the train car a little bit. Here's the video of that in case you don't remember it:

I recorded myself playing the beginning of the game a few times. Thanks to that, I was able to confirm that the conversation with Charleena Purcell always goes like this:

1. Nancy has to ask "Do you think Lori is faking it?" or "Have you met Lori before?"
2. Charleena answers.
3. Charleena asks who Nancy is. Nancy has to ask, "You remember me?" or "You don't remember me, do you?"
5. Charleena says, "No."
6. Nancy can ask another question, "What do you know about Jake Hurley?" or "Have you met anyone else on the train before?"
7. After Nancy asks her question, a Hardy boy interrupts, telling Nancy to come talk to them. Nancy excuses herself from Charleena.
7. Talking ends, and you can save your game for the first time..

I checked the timing on the conversation topics, and these are the results:

2. Charleena's answer to "Have you met Lori before?" is two sentences longer (and about five seconds longer) longer than her answer to "Do you think Lori is faking it?".
3. Naturally, Nancy says "You remember me?" more quickly than she says, "You don't remember me, do you?"
6. It takes Nancy about one second longer to ask "Have you every met any other of Lori's guests before?" than it does to ask "What else do you know about Jake Hurley?".

So, in order to get through the conversation with Charleena as quickly as possible, always choose the FIRST topic of conversation. This is about, I dunno, seven seconds shorter. Woah! MAD TIME-SAVING SKILLS!

The next thing you HAVE to do is talk to the Hardy Boys. You can either walk to the Hardy Boys and talk to them, or try to leave the train compartment, which makes the game throw you into the conversation. It's faster to try to leave the train, as you start off right next to the door. That is, you have to click the mouse three more times to reach the Hardy Boys by walking to them, which saves about two seconds. Again, MAD TIME-SAVING SKILLS.

The conversation with the Hardy Boys goes like this:

1. Frank mentions trailing John Grey. Nancy can ask, "Any idea what he was doing?" or "Did you talk to him?"
2. Joe talks about trailing Tino. Nancy can ask, "Did you see what it was?" or "Did you ask him about it?"
3. Nancy can agree with Frank or Joe. The one she disagrees with responds with "You've got to be kidding!"
4. Nancy can talk to the Hardy Boys about the engineer, or the other guests, or she can end the conversation there.

Unlike Charleena, the Hardy Boys say the exact same thing no matter which dialogue option Nancy chooses. So speedrunning the conversation with thiem is simply choosing the dialogue options that Nancy says more quickly.

1. It is half a second quicker to ask "Did you talk to him?"
2. It is about a tenth of a second faster to ask "Did you ask him about it?"
3. It is about three-tenths of a second to agree with Frank than with Joe, because Nancy says the line "I kind of agree with you" more like "I...kind of agree with you", as if she's deciding who she should agree with. Watch 5:45 of the above video to see what I mean.

So for the Hardy Boys conversation, pick the first dialogue option, then the second, then the first. This saves almost an entire second. MAD TIME-SAVING SKILLS TO THE MAX!!!

At that point in the game, however, you get some plotline options. You can talk to the engineer if you want to, and you can talk to Charleena again if you want to. My question is, "Do you have to?" If I can beat the game without once talking to the engineer, or if I can skip the conversations with Charleena about Jake Hurley, I'm going to do that in order to save about three minutes of time.

I suppose the only way to figure out if the conversations are necessary or not is by trying to beat the game without going through them. Next time I work on this project, I'll do just that when I tackle going through the second/third/fourth train cars. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunny, With a Chance of Sun

Today is pretty sunny. Pretty soon, sunny weather is going to start up again in California.

I never really like it when the sunny weather starts here, because I have freckles. So during the first week of sunny, I suffer from constant heat stroke as my freckles come out. Sometimes I get new freckles, but normally, that just means my freckles become more visible.

I'll try to take a before/after picture to show you what I mean.

Anyway, here are the last videos for the second case of Phoenix Wright: Justice for All.

Video #20: The second day of the trial begins, with Morgan Fey taking the witness stand. Morgan gives a solid testimony against Maya.

Video #21: Morgan finishes her testimony, and Ini Miney takes the stand. Ini makes up a story about Maya visiting her shortly after the murder.

Video #22: Phoenix shows that Ini's testimony is a bunch of lies, because it overlooks the fact that Pearl was in the garden at the time of the murder. He then accuses Ini of being the murderer.

Video #23: Phoenix explains how Ini committed the complicated murder. Franziska then pulls the "the witness is not guilty because she has no motive" card, and the trial continues.

Video #24: Ini gives testimony about the car crash that she and her sister were in.

Video #25: Phoenix finds out a shocking twist (!), which gets the murderer to confess. Maya is then found not guilty, and she has a nice reunion with her sister Mia. Yay for happy endings!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Newsletter

Our friends at Her Interactive released a new monthly newsletter today, all about the Nancy Drew books the games are based off of.

You see, most (if not all) of the games are based off books. Message in a Haunted Mansion, for example, is directly based off Message in a Haunted Mansion. Secret of the Old Clock is based off Secret of the Old Clock and Mystery at the Lilac Inn.

Adaptation is very interesting process. I took a course on that to get my English minor in playwriting. Over the course of the class, I wrote adaptations of three books, a lecture (that was boring), a poem, another play and two comic strips. And I interviewed my sister for some reason.

Also, this year is the 80th anniversary of Nancy Drew! Boy, is Nancy going to have a fun birthday party this year! I hope I'm invited.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Speedrunning, More Phoenix Wright

I think Phantom of Venice would be a good game to speedrun, except for the mosiac puzzle, which is about seven minutes that you can't skip. Most games in the Nancy Drew series have one or more puzzles like that which frustrate speedrunning.

The best Nancy Drew game to speedrun is probably one of the earlier games, like Nancy Drew: The Final Scene. In the earlier games, you can turn off the voices and the closed captioning. This allows you to skip straight through all phone conversations, because the game doesn't have text to display or sound clips to play.

Then again, I imagine something like Nancy Drew: Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon would be easy to speedrun, because it's a straightforward game, and a lot of the plot is totally optional.

I won't be trying a speedrun soon, because I'm busy with other things, like my Phoenix Wright playthrough. Speaking of which, there are more videos!

Video #14: Phoenix begins the second day of investigation. Pearl is keeping secrets about what she was doing at the time of the murder, so he decides to investigate that.

Video #15: Phoenix sees Morgan Fey being creepy and generally suspicious. He also visits Maya in prison.

Video #16: Phoenix gets Pearl to confess what she was doing at the time of the murder. She broke an urn with a ball and was trying to fix it before anyone noticed.

Video #17: Phoenix goes to the hospital, where he meets a creepy pervert who knows all about Ini Miney.

Video #18: Phoenix, using the information from the pervert, is able to undo Ini's psyche lockes and learn her secrets. She is most likely the real murderer.

Video #19: Phoenix goes over everything with the Chief, to prepare for the trial.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blackmoor Manor Speedrun, Part Two

Here's the rest of the information I found out while thinking of a speedrun route for Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor.
  • You can log onto Alan's computer and start the ghost hunt at the beginning of the game, if you've played through the game before and know the password is "purgamentum".
  • You can open the locked box in Nancy's room at the start of the game, if you've played through the game before and know the solution.
  • You have to go up the singing stairs twice: once during the ghost hunt, and once to get the key that unlocks the puzzle outside Jane's room. So while speedrunning the game, you want to do both at the same time.
  • You don't have to solve LouLou's magic word puzzle to learn about the second hidden passageway; you just have to see LouLou's magic word puzzle.

I didn't get very far on the speedrunning strategy, and my notes are full of questions like "Is it necessary to check the locked door?" and "Do you have to tell Linda about the woman in black?"

I stopped planning a speedrun, because I quickly ran up against Jane, the Speedrun Killer. She makes you do all those time-consuming, randomized puzzles like Bul, the jigsaw puzzle, Go Fish and Petroglyph Punch. I can't think of a way to skip those puzzles or make them go faster.

If you guys want, however, I can try working on a speedrun for a different Nancy Drew game, or at least plotting out a general strategy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blackmoor Manor Speedrun

Oh, okay! Apparently, people do want to hear about the speedrun I attempted for Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor. Well, I didn't actually do a speedrun; all I did was plot out a route.

When you play the game normally, here's what you have to do:

1. You start off in Nancy's room.
2. Go see Linda. Jane interrupts the conversation.
3. Go see Jane. She mentions the "lady in black".
4. Go see Linda and ask about the lady in black. Linda tells you to leave.
5. Go to Nancy's room and skip to the next day.
6. Go see Linda. She tells you about the curse in the passageway.
7. Go see Jane when her lessons are over. She gives you the key for the door to the passageway room.

By replaying this starting section a few times, I figured out a speedrunning trick, by skipping immediately to day two.

1. You start off in Nancy's room.
2. Immediately skip ahead to the next day.
3. Go see Linda. Jane interrupts the conversation.
4. Go see Jane. She mentions the "lady in black".
5. Go see Linda and ask about the lady in black. Linda tells you to leave.
6. Leave Linda's room and go back in.
7. Go see Jane. She gives you the key for the door to the passageway room.

By skipping to day two right off the bat, you save yourself a trip to Nancy's room (which takes about a minute).

What's also interesting is that skipping straight to the second day makes it so you don't have to worry about Jane's lessons on Day Two. See, normally, you can't talk to Jane unless it's 3:00 PM, when her lessons are over. This rule does not apply on the day you first talk to Linda, which is normally Day One. But if you skip to Day Two, the exception to the rule carries over.

That means you can, feasibly, get Jane out of lessons for the day at, say, 9:00 AM, freeing her up for later conversations over the course of the day. You have to talk to her about...four times over the course of the game, so this is rather useful.

I have to go to soccer now, so I'll write more later.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nancy Drew Speed Run

All my free time this week is going to be eaten up by the new Phoenix Wright game. I played a little bit yesterday, and...

What? Oh...right. Nancy Drew blog. Not Phoenix Wright blog.

Something I'd like to see is speed runs for the Nancy Drew games. Speed runs are, as you can guess, videos of someone playing a game as quickly as possible. They're interesting to watch sometimes. For example, it took me ten hours to beat Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Watching someone beat it in two hours is pretty impressive!

For point-and-click adventure games like the Nancy Drew series, the way to speedrun them is by doing puzzles out of order. For example, in Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor, you do three or so of the end-of-game puzzles on the first day (if you know what to do ahead of time).

The game that'd probably be easiest to speedrun, though, is Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned for Danger, thanks to some glitches:

Using the "skip to Dwayne's office" glitch, you can start the "hired by Dwayne as a new employee" sequence without having to see the "Rick almost gets hit by a falling kleig light" scene, which skips about six minutes of gameplay.

If you guys are interested, I can talk a bit more about speedrunning Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor. I started planning a speedrun route for that game, but I didn't get very far.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Holiday Weekend

This holiday weekend was quite eventful! Well, kind of. I did lost of things, and since I like making lists, here's what I did!

1. Drive My Sister Around: Yes, Mom and Dad decided to go on vacation to Oregon over the holiday weekend, which means I got stuck driving my little sister around everywhere. Again.

She thinks I'm the best driving instructor she has. The worst driver, true, but the best driving instructor. My tips are always the best, but that's just because I have a ton of experience with walkthroughs and helping people know what they need to do.

So going to dinner with my sister was my Valentine's Day dinner. I got a cheeseburger with a chocolate shake! That's pure deliciousness right there.

2. Phoenix Wright Marathon: I played a TON of Phoenix Wright 2 this weekend, recording it for my video walkthrough.

Whenever we talk about Phoenix Wright on the GameCola podcast, Paul and I always seem to get in a two-hour debate over which characters in the game should go out with each other. Paul, the delusional fool, is convinced that Phoenix belongs with his assistant Maya, when it is CLEAR that Phoenix has a greater connection with his mentor Mia.

So during my playthrough, I kept an eye out for any possible dialogue that could be used as ammo in the Great Phoenix Wright Dating Debate. Whenever Mia says something nice to Phoenix, I make a big deal out of it. There is a TON of relationship material to discuss in this game, whether it's Maya flirting with the defendant in Case 3 or Phoenix bringing flowers to Franziska when she's in the hospital (which I thought was really surprising, given the fact that she really hates him), so you can expect the debates to continue for a long time to come.

3. No Zelda Recording: I have two hours/5 GB of footage for Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, but I didn't hear from the person who is scheduled to be my co-commentator, so no commentary was recorded.

4. I Got Hit By A Car: I was riding my bike, when someone tried to pull the "I'm going to slow down at the stop sign, but if there's no traffic, I'm going to turn without making a full stop" move and bashed into my bike. The back tire is completely busted now.

Helpful Hint for Drivers: STOP AT STOP SIGNS.

Fortunately, he was slowing down for the turn, so I had a few seconds of warning. These seconds were comprised mostly of "Why isn't he stop....AUAUAAUUAUAUAUAH!"

I jumped off in time and was able to avoid injury, which is good. I'm still going to have to pay for a new bike, though, which is completely unfair, but I guess you can't expect someone who doesn't stop at stop signs to be a responsible person.

My parents disagree, however, so they chewed me out for not getting the man's insurance information.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

It's February 14th, and that means it's Valentine's Day! It's not really a holiday I can celebrate, like, ever, but I made some videogame-based Valentines for people to enjoy, anyway.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Three Things

1. I finished editing/sorting through all the videos in my blog! So now every entry has one or more descriptive labels, like "awesomeness" and "Nancy Drew previews". Over a fourth of them have the uncreative label "other".

2. On a similar note, I recently asked how people felt about walkthrough video posts.

On one hand, these posts never get many comments because they're mostly videos, so they might not be too popular with readers.

On the other hand, they are super easy to make, so they're popular with me.

I think from now on, I'll make the entries like this one, where I include the first video, and some basic descriptions of the other videos.

3. I have previously said that "Bet On It", the angsty song from High School Musical 2 is the most ridiculous song in the movie because it's mostly just Zac Efron spinning around and doing other random dance moves, while acting like this is the most serious thing he's ever done.

I was listening to the song, and I have a question. During the bridge of the song, where the computer starts singing instead of Zac because Zac is too busy playing golf, do you hear someone open a can of soda at 2:07?

Why did they put that sound effect in the song?

I haven't heard such a ridiculous sound effect in a song since Logan Whitehurst's Rudolf Nureyev, where he picks up a phone and hangs it up.

Update, Phoenix Wright 2, Case 2, Part 2

Here's a brief update on a few of my current projects.

1. Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: This is the next game I'll play for my arglefumph Youtube channel. I recorded myself playing the first two hours of this game today. Over this weekend, I hope to record the commentary for it. Recording the commentary is going to be hard, because I'm going to have a special guest co-commentator. Who will it be? Stay tuned!

2. Fanfiction: One of my DragonBall Z fanfic groups is having a seven-day story challenge: you write seven stories in one week, one story per day. I've done this challenge before, with playwriting group, and it's a lot of fun. The starter sentences for all seven days have been released already, so I'm getting a head start on my stories.

3. This Blog: I'll be going through all my old blog posts this weekend, re-labelling some and deleting others.

4. Phoenix Wright Recording: I've finished playing through all of Case #3 of Phoenix Wright 2. With luck, I can finish Case #4 this weekend in time for the new game that comes out on Tuesday.

5. Phoenix Wright Video Releasing: And hey, the next set of videos for Case 2 of Phoenix Wright: Justice for All have been released! These videos cover the first day of the trial!

Video 8: The trial starts off badly for our heroes, as the evidence and testimony makes it seem that Maya is the murderer. Franziska von Karma, gloating, offers Phoenix the chance to plead for justified self-defense, but Phoenix insists on getting a complete acquital.

Video 9: The final piece of evidence is submitted: Maya's bloodstained jacket. Phoenix notices something unusual: there is a bullet hole in the sleeve of the jacket! The victim must have tried to shoot Maya!

Video 10: Detective Gumshoe tries to recreate the crime scene, based on the new evidence. His new explanation of what happened has definite problems, however, and Phoenix is quick to point them out in his attempts to show that Maya didn't attack the victim at all.

Video 11: Lotta Hart takes the witness stand, and things go from bad to worse for Phoenix. Franziska has prepped this witness so well that the testimony is airtight, and the Judge is ready to declare a verdict.

Video 12: Pearl summons Mia to help Phoenix. All right! With Mia's help, Phoenix is able to continue the trial. He requests that Lotta show the second photograph she took of the crime scene. Of course, this photograph contains a critical contradiction.

Video 13: Phoenix uses the contradiction found in the photograph to argue for Maya's innocence. Being unable to account for it (and the possibility that Maya left the scene of the crime at one point), Franziska is forced to investigate further. The trial is then called to an end for the day.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Phoenix Wright: Justice for All - Case 2, Part 1

Good news! The first seven videos for Case 2 of Phoenix Wright: Justice for All have now been released! These videos cover the first day of investigation.

I was looking forward to playing this case, because it's all about Maya. Maya is Phoenix's friend/assistant, and at the end of the last game, she went back to her home, promising to come back as soon as she was done with her training as a spirit medium.

That was six months ago, and Phoenix hasn't seen her since.

Video One: Phoenix gets told that Maya is ready to do her first official spirit channeling! In fact, she refuses to do it unless he comes to see it, so Phoenix goes to Kurain to meet Maya again and see the spirit channeling.

Video Two: Phoenix explores Fey Manor and meets various people, like Maya's aunt, Morgan Fey. Morgan is very protective of her little daughter, Pearl.

Video Three: The channeling begins, but then two gunshots break out! Someone has been killed, and Maya looks like she's covered in blood. Oh no!

Video Four: Maya is arrested for the murder, and Phoenix talks with her in the detention center. Maya is resigned to her fate, but Phoenix promises to defend her, because she's his best friend, and there is no way that she is really the murderer. Way to go, Phoenix!

Video Five: Phoenix talks with Aunt Morgan again, and he talks to Maya's cousin Pearl. Pearl thinks Maya and Phoenix are "special someones" (ie. soulmates), so she agrees to help out in any way she can.

Video Six: Phoenix learns some bad news: the prosecutor for the trial tomorrow is Manfred von Karma's child. He also learns how to undo psyche locks, and he gets Ini Miney to confess she knew the murder victim (the victim was her sister's boss).

Video Seven: Phoenix talks with Mia Fey, Maya's older sister who is pretty much the best lawyer ever. She's also dead, but Phoenix can still talk with her because Maya is a spirit medium. Mia helps Phoenix out a little bit.

At the end of this video, the trial starts, and we get to see the new prosecutor: Franziska von Karma. She's just as obsessed with perfection as her father was, she might be even meaner than her father, and she likes to hit people with the whip she constantly carries around. NOT a good combination.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I'm going to hopefully have free time to clean up my blog this weekend, and I have a quick question: Do people actually like entries where I post a group of videos?

You know, entries like this one where I post all 10 or so videos of a video walkthrough.

If people like those posts, I'll try to group them together, instead of having them all separate like they are now (which is really inefficient). If not, I'll just delete them all.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How I Failed My Driver's Test Five Times

There seems to be some confusion about my driving skills, so let me explain things.

I do have a driver's license. But since boys from ages 16-20 pay the highest car insurance rates, I waited until I was 21 before getting my license. I don't travel much, so it wasn't that big of a deal.

Actually getting my license was pretty tough, because I failed the driving test five times.

Time #1: I think I set the record for world's quickest failure, as I flunked the test while pulling out of the DMV parking lot. The instructor said I almost crashed into a hot dog cart.

She was clearly making things up, because I have never seen a hot dog cart in my town, and if I did, I would see it at a sports game, not the DMV parking lot. I might not be the most observant guy around, but I think I would have noticed if I almost crashed into a hot dog cart.

Time #2: This time, I failed while pulling into the DMV parking lot at the end of the test. It wasn't my fault, though. I was making a right-hand turn into the parking lot, and a guy making a left-hand turn totally cut me off. Apparently, the instructor thought it was too close for comfort, and she failed me.

Time #3: I failed for not checking my mirrors often enough. I should have checked the mirrors for bikers, although there were no bikers there, which is why I didn't check my mirrors. Oh well.

Time #4: This time, I got taken down the busiest driving test road possible, and I did perfectly. A police car even came barreling down the road, and I did a great job of pulling over to the right-hand side of the road and stopping to let the police go by. That should count as bonus points/automatic pass/free trip to Disneyland.

But I failed the parallel parking challenge by getting a little too close to the bumper of the car in front of me. Apparently, I need to revise my parallel parking rule of "not actually hitting the other car = A-OK!"

Time #5: I don't remember what happened this time, but I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out I almost hit the imaginary hot dog cart again.

Time #6: I passed, naturally. I'm a great driver!

So that's the story of how I got my driver's license. It took a long time due to bad luck and imaginary hot dog carts. But I have my license now, and I've been driving for three years with no accidents whatsoever. Yes!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All - Case 1

Recently, I've released my latest video walkthrough, for Case 1 of the second Phoenix Wright game!

This is the first Phoenix Wright case I ever played, and it is what got me addicted to the series. Courtroom drama, funny dialogue and logic-based puzzles! Using logic to solve a mystery is really the only way to go; I don't really enjoy the mysteries where it is impossible to solve the case by yourself.

The case is about Maggey Byrde, an enthusiastic police officer who has been accused of killing her boyfriend. Phoenix is her lawyer, and he's determined to prove her innocent...only the real culprit knocks Phoenix on the head with a fire extinguisher two minutes before the trial, and Phoenix gets amnesia. So poor Phoenix is tossed into a trial with a throbbing headache and no idea what's going on. Fortunately, with the help of Maggey (and his friend/legal assistant, Maya Fey), he is able to figure everything out and prove Maggey's innocence.

The set of all seven videos can be found here.

I finished Case #2 last night, so those videos should be released sometime soon. This is all in preparation for the brand new Phoenix Wright game (kind of) which is coming out next Tuesday. YES!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Big Basketball Game

Yesterday, our team played in the big basketball game. That is, the only basketball game we play all year! We had a pretty fearsome group of competitors, too!

The Home Team

And us! (I'm third from the left)

The gym at Santa Clara University was pretty full, with at least 2,000 people coming out to see the Sems challenge the Revs again. The Revs may have won the past two years, but now that I'm on the team, victory is assured, right?


The game was loads of fun, anyway, and pretty much everyone was rooting for us underdogs to come back from the 16-point defecit we racked up in the first half. The crowd was so enthusiastic that, as you can see, we played five quarters instead of four.

The announcer for the event is half the fun. He made up with nicknames for all of the players, like "Jackpot" Joe, "Raging Bull" Hernandez, and Gabriel "Kung Fu Panda" Lee.

The Kung Fu Panda!

My nickname was "The Hitman". The announced picked it because he was told I'm one of those quiet, silent guys who never says much.


I have no idea who told him that! Clearly, it's not someone who has seen my Youtube videos.

You can't see in the picture, but I wore #14, the same number as Troy from the High School Musical movies. I started cracking up when the players started quoting the movies without knowing it, when they said things like, "Come on boys!", "Let's Go Team!" (both of which are things Coach chants in Now or Never) and "What time is it?" I swear, if anyone said, "Getcha head in the game", I would have died laughting.

I got in two shifts, but only one shot. It bounced off the rim, sadly, which was our sixth off-the-rim shot in a row. "With all the bricks the Sems have, we could build a new church!" the announcer said. Oh well!

My family showed up, and everyone had loads of fun. It's all for charity, anyway, so it doesn't matter if we lost for the third time in a row. Next year, we'll win!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why I Don't Have an iPhone

Someone asked me why I don't have an iPhone. It's simple: I don't trust phones. They're always causing trouble for people, calling the wrong numbers and dropping calls left and right. I don't even trust my cell phone to keep track of phone numbers, to be honest. My cell phone is kind of a jerk.

Why? My cell phone likes to play tricks on me, that's why. Just yesterday, my mom called when I was in class. The cell phone is programmed to tell me whenever I have a missed call, so of course, it delivered the "Hey! Your mother called at 3:00!" 7:30. Not funny, cell phone.

Of course, the favorite pratical joke my phone likes to play on me is the "screw up the conversation" one. It loves to play that joke on me and Marianne. One second, I can hear Marianne just fine, and the next second, I can't understand what she's saying. Every time I call Marianne, the conversation goes like this:

Michael: So, how has school been going for you?
Marianne: It's cool to visit the zoo? When did you visit the zoo?
Michael: You're sick? That's unfortunate.
Marianne: Huh? I'm not sick.
Michael: But you said you had the flu.
Marianne: Wait, so you went to the zoo, but you didn't see the giraffes?
Michael: You're pregnant???
Michael's Cell Phone: *chuckles sinisterly*

So, yes, cell phones aren't trustworthy. There's no reason for me to upgrade to a cell phone with Internet access, because I know it's going to mess that up too. It'll send emails to the wrong people, and do weird things like order a coffee maker online and have it delivered to my room with "To Michael, From Ellen" inscribed on the top.

Besides, do you know how many times I've been invited to a Facebook Group called, "Hey, everyone, I lost my cell phone, and I need your phone number again"? At least five times. If people can lose their cell phones so easily, they can lose their iPhones just as easily. And an iPhone has your email and credit card info and everything else on it, too...Sounds dangerous to me!

In conclusion, I'm just an old fogey who remembers when computers and the Internet were new, and so they only worked half the time. I still haven't gotten over my paranoid mindset that technology doesn't work. I don't do anything complicated with my laptop besides read fanfiction and play videogames, but it still manages to screw up a lot ("screwing up" as in, "I can't play some games"). Oh well.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Two Video Walkthroughs

Hey, I have not one but TWO video walkthroughs for you guys today!

First is my newly-finished walkthrough for Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Here's the press release:

Whenever people make a list of “the top 10 games of all time”, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time inevitably appears. People generally justify this decision by pointing to the game’s interesting characters, solid puzzles, intriguing plotline, and lack of cartoony graphics. What’s not to like?


The game follows the adventures of a young boy named Link who teams up with Princess Zelda to try to stop the evil wizard Ganondorf. Ganondorf is pretending to be loyal to the King, but he’s secretly doing evil things to stir up civil unrest (like kidnapping princesses and starting food shortages), so it doesn’t take a genius to realize he’s after world domination. Can Link and Zelda right the wrongs that Ganondorf has committed? Can they get to the super-powerful Triforce before Ganondorf does? In other words, will our spunky ten-year-old heroes be able to save the world?

That’s enough for a great game in itself, but the Zelda formula dictates that each game must have a dual overworld. In this game, the dual worlds are Past World/Future World. That’s right, Link gets to travel back and forth through time in this game. Only by playing as both Child Link and Adult Link can you solve the various problems in both times and defeat Ganondorf. It’s pretty fun, even if I still don’t understand if they’re using the Back to the Future or the DragaonBall Z time travel model (that’s “one universe or multiple universes”, for those of you who don't know).

Michael Gray (thaaat’s me!) has recently finished a video walkthrough for Ocarina of Time, completing it in about 10 hours and including helpful notes like “If you don’t want to see this dungeon, skip to Part 14, where I finish it”. If you haven’t played the game before, you might want to glance through the video walkthrough to see what all the fuss is about. You might want to check it out if you have played the game before, too, because Michael plays the original, uncensored Golden Cartridge edition. Later verisons cut out various inappropriate parts of the game, like Ganondorf coughing up blood (4:56 of the video above) and all references to Islam.


The second video walkthrough, which doesn't have a fancy press release (yet) is for Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES. I played through this game with my friends Paul and Nathaniel.

Super Mario Bros. 2

The game is made up of 20 levels, so we decided to try something fun: switching off commentary. Paul played the first level, and he made some joke comments, like the fact that I wrote Twilight: New Moon. I played the second level, and made jokes right back at Paul. And the commentary goes back and forth between us until the end of the game. Fun!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Three Things

1. I want to go through all my blog entries and redo the tags I use. When you look at the list of tags on the right-hand side of the screen, you'll notice half of them are used once. There must be a better way of organizing things.

2. Rant about Li'l Archie that was left out of the last entry: I don't like Li'l Archie. The characters look weird, and their personalities aren't entertaining in the least. The Muppet Babies are much better.

3. I am notorious in our family for being a horrible driver, just because I failed my driver's test five times (long story). In particular, my little sister gives me a lot of grief about my driving, which is precious, seeing as she doesn't have a license.

Well, my sister got her learner's permit recently, and yesterday, we had her drive Dad and me for fifteen minutes. If you haven't been in a car with a driver who has no idea what she is doing, let me tell you, it is the scariest thing ever.

She doesn't have the driving controls down yet, so turning is very difficult for her. It's tough enough on straight roads, but we went down a road that curved to the left, which is just asking for trouble. Instead of holding the wheel straight, you have to hold it while it's turned to the left.

There was a bus in the lane to the right of us. She didn't want to get too close to the bus, so that meant she had to turn a bit to the left. But because she mixed up her directions, she ended up turning right, going straight towards the bus. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but my nerves were shot for an hour afterwards.

She think she did "pretty well, overall". I think I'm no longer the worst driver in the family.